The 2013 Baylor Crystal Ball Part 3

In the third part of our Big 12 preview series, we take a look at the stretch run for the Bears, the last 5 weeks of the year and tell you how the Big 12 will finish up.

Now comes of the fun part for the Bears. In the first 4 games of the conference schedule, the Bears played teams that were at the bottom of the standings. With that blessing though comes the curse of the backend of the schedule, where the Bears play four of their final 5 games against teams ranked in the AP poll and are mostly the contenders for the top Big 12 spot.

The last two seasons, the Bears have seen a dip or lull around the mid-way point of the year, or at the beginning of conference play. In 2013 though, they stormed through that part of the schedule. At 7-0, they are hitting the part of the year where they have dominated everyone on their schedule, with big winning streaks to end the 2011 and 2012 seasons. They have beaten Top 25 teams in each of those years, including Top 5 ranked Oklahoma and #1 ranked Kansas State. This year though, can the Bears momentum carry them to a remarkable season?

Standings (Post Week 9)

1. Baylor Bears 7-0 (4-0)

2. Oklahoma 7-1 (4-1)

3. TCU 6-2 (4-1)

4. Oklahoma State 6-1 (3-1)

5. Texas 56-1 (3-1)

6. Texas Tech 5-3 (2-3)

7. Kansas State 4-3 (1-3)

8. West Virginia 4-4 (1-4)

9. Iowa State 3-4 (0-4)

10. Kansas 2-5 (0-4)

Week 10 – BYE

The final Bye week of the season brings another week of preparation for the Bears as they host Oklahoma in possibly the biggest game of the year at the Case.

Week 11 – Oklahoma

With two weeks to prepare, the Bears welcome in 7-1 Oklahoma who is looking to avenge a loss from the last time they came to Floyd Casey Stadium. With the game being on a Thursday night, it gets all of the national attention you would expect. The undefeated, and top 10 ranked Baylor Bears hosting undefeated Oklahoma for the top spot in the Big 12.

The game lives up to the expectations as the Bears get off to a quick offensive start, scoring 14 points in the first quarter to go up 14-6. But the Sooners come back and take the lead 20-14 going into halftime as the Bears struggle running the ball for really the first time all year. In the second half, the game goes back and forth as the Bears score a touchdown to go up 1, then the Sooners answer back right away.

Late in the fourth quarter, the Bears finally get the break they need, as Eddie Lackey steps in front of a Trevor Knight pass and runs it back inside the 5-yard line. Glasco Martin pushes the ball into the endzone, for this third touchdown of the game. With a 42-41 lead, the Bears defense stops the Sooners on fourth and 6 with under a minute left to secure the Baylor victory.

Week 12 – Texas Tech (Cowboy Stadium)

Coming off of the high mark of the season with their win against Oklahoma, the Bears are the 6th best team in the AP poll, held back by public perception and a soft non-conference schedule. The Bears come out slow against Texas Tech for the second year in a row as they go down by 17 points in the second quarter, 24-7. The Red Raiders are feeling the upset, until Ahmad Dixon times a blitz perfectly and knocks the ball out of Michael Brewer's hands. At the bottom of the pile, Javonte Magee has the ball and the Bears score quickly on back to back possessions to get it to 24-21 before halftime.

In the second half, the Baylor offense gets into rhythm and stops hurting themselves with pre-snap penalties and terribly timed holding calls. In the end, the Bears get a harder than it looks 42-35 win against Texas Tech, their fourth straight win in the series.

Week 13 - @ Oklahoma State

Here it is. The top two teams in the Big 12 are finally going to meet. The Cowboys have been licking their wounds since an upset loss to Texas Tech in week 10 just biding their time till they could host Baylor and then later in the year Oklahoma. The trend for Baylor visits to Stillwater continue as the Cowboys turn turnovers into points, and the Bears offense never gets comfortable. The Bears drive the ball, but stall in the redzone and have to settle for field goal attempts, while the Cowboys score touchdowns.

Down 28-13 in the 3rd quarter, the Bears commit a huge turnover on a Bryce Petty interception that is run back for a touchdown and pushes the lead to 35-13. Baylor tries to come back, but forced with such a large deficit they have to go for it on 4th down several times in less than opportune situations. The Bears defense struggles all day with the Cowboy passing attack, as J.W. Walsh racks up 450 yards passing as the Bears fall 45-27.

Week 14 - @ TCU

Coming off of their first loss of the year, the Bears react poorly against rival TCU. With the back to back road games taking its toll on the Bears, they fall behind early 14-3 and never fully recover. The vaunted Baylor rushing attack is held down, as Lache Seastrunk gains only 60 yards on 18 carries and the Horned Frogs simply just don't let the Bears offense ever get fully going.

While the Bears struggle to rush the ball, TCU does not have that problem as they have two 100 yard rushers in Aaron Green and B.J. Catalon both gain over 100 yards on the ground. TCU goes on to win the game 35-24.

Week 15 – Texas

In the final game of the year for the Bears, and the final game at Floyd Casey Stadium ever, Baylor welcomes in longtime rival Texas to close them both out. With a two-game losing streak for the Bears, they are desperate for a win to have a sliver of hope at getting a share of the Big 12 title. With just 2 losses, they are 1 game behind Oklahoma and are rooting for the Cowboys to win and put the Bears in a 4-way tie for first place.

The Bears start off strong, taking care of their business as the arm of Bryce Petty finds Robbie Rhodes for a 75 yard touchdown on the second drive of the game for the Baylor offense. With the Longhorns stacking the line of scrimmage to stop the Bears rushing attack, Petty has a field day of finding streaking receivers running uncovered through their secondary. He has a career day with over 425 yards passing and 5 touchdown passes as the Bears close the Case in style, 42-28.

Final Standings:

1. Baylor 10-2 (7-2)

1. Oklahoma 10-2 (7-2)

1. Oklahoma State 10-2, (7-2)

1. TCU 9-3 (7-2)

5. Texas 8-4 (5-4)

6. Kansas State 7-5 (4-5)

6. Texas Tech 7-5 (4-5)

8. West Virginia 6-6 (3-6)

9. Iowa State 4-8 (1-8)

10. Kansas 2-10 (0-9)

In Conclusion

This is going to be a weird and strange year in the Big 12. Yes, the Crystal Ball shows us a 4-way tie atop the Big 12 conference. 40% of the teams will claim 1st place, with the BCS rankings putting….Oklahoma State at the top of the list, barely edging Oklahoma for the Big 12 win in part due to their head to head victory over them in Week 15. The Cowboys and Sooners both get chosen for a BCS game as Top 10 teams, while the Bears get to close out the Big 12's relationship with the Cotton Bowl against Georgia. TCU goes onto the Alamo Bowl as well.

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